Saturday, March 31, 2007

I...Me...My Accomplishments

An attempt to feel good about MYSELF!

I always found it very difficult to talk about my accomplishments and talents. I am sure many of you also feel the same. I attribute it to our Indian culture "SAMSKARA" which teaches us not to boast about ourselves. In typical local lingo "SELF DABBA" is not appreciated.

I assume, that most of us want others to talk about our accomplishments. It is music to our ears. but when a person talks about himself/herself , it is noise, isn't it? And we do not appreciate "that behaviour".

Of course, some people overdo it; that makes it very irritable and painful for the listener. We usually refer to them as MAHA SUTTI (Big Hammer). Anyway I leave this topic for some other day.

Since childhood most of us were taught by our parents not to comment or voice opinions when elders were talking or words like "I did this or that" connoted self centered character. But as I grew up and faced the real life challenges in this big, bad and competitive world, I experienced some conflicting emotions with regard to "Speaking about MYSELF", and words like" Is it O.K to do so?", lingered in my mind.

Encountering day to day experiences, some challenging and some drab, I gradually realized the importance of "speaking about one's self", its powerful impact, especially in the world of work.

Being a psychologist and also having been an educational adviser on foreign education, I have the opportunity to interact with people from different countries, namely the Americans, Australians, Canadians and last but not the least, our own Indians here and NRI s settled abroad. The important lessons I learned during my interactions were, that "if you won't talk about yourself, then nobody will". You have to learn to market yourself, to be heard and for your existence to be acknowledged in your field of work. But to do so, you also need to be well acquainted with your subject or area of expertise. And above all, good networking with professionals, right contacts and being in the right place at the right time, matters a lot in one's so called " Success". It also depends on "What Success means to you?". "Is it Money, Fame, Recognition, Job Satisfaction or anything else?

Each one of us have some hidden talent or the other in us which needs to be tapped, and brought to the fore front.

At different stages in my life, I developed fascination for varied and at times weird things (Hobbies). It ranged from collecting coins, stamps, match boxes, marbles, shells, pebbles, mineral deposits; posters of film stars, cricketers, Tennis players; writing to film stars for their autographed snaps; participating in slogan contests (won 50 packets of CHICKLETS, a set of MONTEX pens, a LIRIL T-Shirt ) making greeting cards; collecting and reading books (had a collection of over 200 MILLS & BOONS ) writing some not-so-successful poems and short stories; painting and drawing cartoons. Phew! a long list indeed.
It was a delightful phase wherein I had good fun. And later, a herculean task disposing all the collected stuff and a heartbreak losing my coins collection and silver souvenirs of different countries, during a major theft in my house (March 2005). This episode, to some extent has made me detached to materialistic things.

I am sharing my experience to convey that our innate talents can be used productively with a little added effort and patience. When I started my career as an educational Counsellor in the year 1993, the concept was very new. It was really tough to keep going and not to change my line of profession. I thank my family for their encouragement. And when I decided to be on my own, I received support from my husband and Mr. A.K. Dasgupta (well known and highly respected librarian in India) and Mr. K.J.Rao ( Statistician and computer specialist); both retired professionals, eager to do their bit for our society's youngsters. We started the advising centre called Educational and Career Information Resource Centre (EdCIRC) in the year 2001. We published a book "Where to go from here?"- A comprehensive guide on educational and career opportunities in India; the first edition was sold out in no time. I am keen to publish the second edition, but lack of funds is a big hurdle, as of now. I received requests from the well known newspaper publications (Deccan Chronicle and The Times of India, Hyderabad Edition) to contribute articles on Careers, Educational counselling, and US education. Therefore my unsuccessful attempts as a kid, to publish short stories in "TINKLE" did not go waste.

I continue to dabble in colours to make bright and lively posters of cartoon characters for my daughter , nieces and my little friends. It is a great stress reliever. My creative talents have been put to very good use for my daughter's school projects , fancy dress competitions, decorations for birthdays and festivals.

Hey, do share your talents with me. Be a sport and talk about "Yourselves"!

Friday, March 16, 2007

A Tribute to Indian Soldiers

I salute the Soldiers of Indian Defence Services -

The Army, Air force, and the Navy.

I was one of those civilians who looked at the armed forces as a glamorous profession; full of adventure, handsome officers, parties and postings all over India.

But my imagination went for a toss, once, the youngest of my two brothers, Ravi joined the Armed Forces Medical College, Pune to pursue Medicine.

The anecdotes he narrated about his hostel life, first shocked me and later stirred the process of eliminating my rose tinted glasses. I began to view our soldiers in a different light, with respect and dignity for the tough lives they led with discipline and endurance.

My brother graduated from AFMC, and we, his proud family attended the passing out parade at Pune in March 1999. He was commissioned into the Armed Forces and he became Lt. H Ravi Ramamurthy.

His first posting was at Ladakh, a region in the state of Jammu & Kashmir in Northern India which is surrounded by
two of the world's mightiest mountain ranges, the Great Himalaya and the Karakoram. Ladakh lies at altitudes ranging from about 9,000 feet (2750m) at Kargil to 25,170 feet (7,672m) at Saser Kangri in the Karakoram. Ladakh is the only place possibly in the world where a man sitting in the sun with his feet in the shade suffer from sunstroke and frostbite at the same time! The largest town in Ladakh is Leh. Ladakh is prominent for its remote mountain beauty and Buddhist culture.

During Ravi's tenure at Ladakh, he was posted at Siachen, the world's largest non-polar glacier, sometimes referred to as the third pole. The Siachen Glacier has no significant strategic value. Since 1984, the "snow-warriors" of India and Pakistan have been locked in supremacy for the control of Siachen glacier. Its inhospitable terrain has taken heavy toll of men and resources on both sides. The world's highest battlefield, for over a decade India and Pakistan have fought at altitudes of over 22,000 feet in minus 60ÂșC temperatures. It is 78 km long and situated at an altitude of 5,400 meters above sea level. The Siachen glacier is the great Himalayan watershed that demarcates central Asia from the Indian sub-continent, and that separates Pakistan from China in this region.

Operation Meghdoot [named after the divine cloud messenger in a Sanskrit play] was launched on 13, April 1984 when the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force went into the Glacier. Pakistan quickly responded with troop deployments. The Pakistanis can resupply most of their posts by road and pack mule. Indians, at their forward positions, some as high as 21,000 feet, must rely on helicopters. Casualties on both sides have been mostly due to extreme weather conditions.

Ravi had many interesting anecdotes to narrate about his stay at Siachen. To briefly recount a few, Tomatoes as hard as cricket balls and Bottle Gourd (Lauki) as hard as cricket bat, and their game of cricket; A bottle of PEPSI heated to make it drinkable; Huge rats scrawling all over when asleep; heating up a bucket full of ice before going to the toilet, Enemy troops firing and many more. He also had a very difficult time acclimatizing when he visited home on his annual vacation. We were actually petrified seeing his plight.

Capt. H. Ravi Ramamurthy's next posting was at Bikaner, Rajasthan. Well, imagine moving from an extreme cold environment to an extreme hot one. But he had a good stay, especially serving the local populace as part of Indian Army's contribution to local civilians. He received an appreciation letter from the Government of Rajasthan, highly praising his contribution to its people. I felt very proud of my brother when I read it.

Ravi, now is Major. H. Ravi Ramamurthy, presently posted at the Army Command Hospital, Pune, where he is on the verge of completing his Post Graduate Studies in Paediatrics. I refer to him as an Officer, Paediatrician and a Gentleman.

Thank you Ravi for facilitating my focus on the realistic aspects of a soldier's life. A soldier has to be mentally and physically strong and disciplined to sustain any harsh conditions, maintain sanity despite being away from loved ones and protect our country from enemies. It certainly is a high pressure job which requires the highest level of motivation. A standing ovation to the defence services whose contribution to our motherland during war and peaceful times is unparalleled .

Jai Jawan !

Information on Siachen & Ladakh Courtesy: Wikipedia & other sources

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hyderabadi Spitters – Can you beat them?

I am a Hyderabadi and proud to be one!

I love Hyderabad, which is aptly called the city of Nizams…Pearls…Information Technology. I cannot dream of living anywhere else in the world, despite the heat and dust; water and electricity problems. It is one such city where the poorest of poor can survive and the richest of the rich can splurge their money on anything exotic; reminiscent of the name Bhagyanagar, the earlier name of Hyderabad.

It is a historical city, famous for Charminar, Golconda, Hussain Sagar Lake, and Salarjung Museum, Qutub Shahi Tombs, Falukhnuma Palace and many more historical splendors. The modern city of Hyderabad is famous for its Hi-tech city, which houses the major IT Companies; Birla mandir, Ramoji Film City, NTR Park, Snow World and countless shopping malls and IMAX Theaters.

The people of Hyderabad are famous for their hospitality and welcome strangers into their homes. Every acquaintance is a friend. But do not expect us to know our neighbour’s house address (i.e. because they are numbered in an erratic manner by the municipal authorities). We always maintain the “Hyderabadi Standard Time” whenever and wherever we go, which is always at least an hour late. So if you actually want your invitees to be on time, then make sure to prefix "Sharp”. And when your typical Hyderabadi friend or cousin says, he will be at your place in 10 minutes, and then it means, easily after 2 or 3 hours or sometimes will never arrive. But now, mobile phones are a boon, at least we can call and confirm 'KIDAR HAI RE' (where are you?).

To speak in the Hyderabadi Deccani dialect is a delight. If you find that the auto driver is trying to swindle you, just say“KY KU BHAI NAYE DHIKRE KYA” (Why brother, do I look new to this town?) or “HAWLE SAMAJHRE KYA” (You think I am crazy). He will know you were born and brought up here. I always find this particular anecdote very funny. We arrived from Bangalore early in the morning at the Kachiguda Railway Station, Hyderabad and were flocked by a few auto drivers. One of them demanded for RS. 250/- to drop us home, where as it generally costs RS.85/- only, and my husband promptly replied “HAME AUTO NAHE KHAREDNA BHAI” (We don’t want to buy your auto). I just couldn't control my laughter. That poor guy received an early morning jolt and walked away from us. If you are shopping at Sultan Bazaar, General Bazaar or Charminar, ask the street vendor "KYSA DERE" (For how much will you give?)Or "KITNE KO" (For how much?) and then bargain hard KAM KARO JI (Reduce the price) and if the vendor does not agree, then say "NOKKO" (Don't want) and walk away. There is every possibility, he or she will call you back and you get the best deal.
What embarrasses me as a Hyderabadi? It is the most common sight in Hyderabad; the open air peeing by our Hyderabadi men folk. It is a great relief that the MCH (Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad) took the initiative of setting up 700 public toilets in Hyderabad and Secunderabad, to commemorate the birth anniversary of our "Father of the Nation - Gandhiji" on October 2, 2006.

Second to none are our
Hyderabadi Spitters. You will find PAAN (BETEL LEAF) stains (red coloured betel, tobacco & saliva chew) everywhere, on the walls, vehicles, roads, sometimes on our clothes too. You will find everybody and anybody spitting. The famous spitting zone is the corners near the stairs at any Government or private buildings. This, of course is not exclusive to Hyderabad, but is prevalent in other parts of India. But as a Hyderabadi, I speak for Hyderabad only.

To prevent or rather save the walls, people of Hyderabad are taking the help of Gods. The possible target areas are adorned with tiles of different Gods. So when you climb the stairs of some buildings in Hyderabad, you will find Lord Ganesha smiling at you, Lord Shiva in meditation, Sai Baba blessing, Lakshmi Devi showering gold coins, etc.

I am wondering, now that we have Gods on our side, can we beat the Hyderabadi Spitters?

Saturday, March 3, 2007

All time favourite – COMICS

I get nostalgic when I see comics. My childhood memories come rushing and I find myself smiling. I remember how fervently my brothers and I would wait every month near the gate for the newspaper boy, who would deliver the comics at home. And it was practically a competition as to who would get their hands on it and be the first one to read it. I will be eternally grateful to my parents for inculcating the habit of reading and subscribing these exquisite and delightful story books, despite financial constrains. We subscribed for Indrajal comics (Phantom, Mandrake, Flash Gordon, Bahadur), Tinkle, Chandamama, Walt Disney Comics and Wisdom. The more expensive ones like Amar Chitra Katha, Tintin, Archie’s Digest and Richie Rich were a holiday bonanza or special gifts for getting good marks in school.

I still have a collection of those comics, my prized possession; after losing many of them during the borrowing and exchanging program with friends. The oldest of my possessions is probably the Indrajal Comic’s “Tulsida’s Ramacharit Manas” 1974 Edition which came in two parts.

As a kid, I always lived in the dream world of Phantom’s forest or Mandrake’s magic land or in space with Flash Gordon or fighting the dacoits of Chambal valley with Bahadur. I really miss those magical moments. Our games also revolved to a large extent around these wonderful characters – our heroes. I also loved Tinkle, especially the puzzles and General knowledge snippets. In fact, I had sent a few write-ups to Tinkle and received some “kind, sweet and encouraging” regret letters from Uncle Pai. So I never got disappointed.

But, now I wish our kids showed the same enthusiasm about books, than television with its countless cartoon channels, some funny and good and some really intimidating.

Did the “Comics” nostalgia catch up with you? I am sure it did…